Anybody into astronomy?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Alan K, Dec 8, 2001.

  1. Alan K

    Alan K Agent

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    I'd like to buy a basic beginner's telescope for my father for christmas and would like to spend $100-$120. Any suggestions on where the best deals are and general advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

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    I thought this was going to be about Mars in Orion's house, that sort of thing. [​IMG]
    You might want to try a really powerful pair of binoculers, many people use them for stargazing.
     
  3. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I'm interested in the subject, but it's over my head. Heh, heh! Get it? [​IMG]
     
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Astronomy is just one of the many tools of the devil!

    - Mama Boucher, The Waterboy
     
  5. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    I really got into it about 12-13 years ago when I was starting GCSEs - so much so I did a four-year astrophysics degree. Unfortunately you kind of lose the thread of a subject when you do it that long, I found. [​IMG]
    Well anyhow, I don't know for sure but off the top of my head I don't think you're going to get a lot of joy out anything for that sort of money.
    As I remember the minimum size of telescope you should really be buying is either a 6-inch reflecting (Newtonian) type or a 3-inch refracting telecscope.
    (A refracting telecscope is better in urban environment - these have the eyepiece at the oposite end to the aperture like your classic 'navel' telescope.)
    Now if you find that such telescopes are very expensive (and they probably will be) then a good pair of binoculars are very good (as already suggested). Binoculars are rated in values such as 7x50 or 8x32. Here it is magnification-x-aperture. The bigger the aperture the better it is for stargazing (and obviously the bigger the magnification, the more you'll see). Try weighing up the weight of the binocs against their aperture and magnification.
    Binoculars are a great way to stargaze, IMO. I have a Patrick Moore book 'Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars' which is very good.
     
  6. Ben Motley

    Ben Motley Supporting Actor

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    I've been watching Cosmos. Does that count? [​IMG]
    Ben Motley... lazy couch potato astronomist. [​IMG]
     
  7. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    I would say if you're going to get a telescope you'll want a Schmidt-Cassegrain type reflector. They are more expensive than the Newtonian variety but are quite a bit smaller and easier to operate.

    However, they are pricey. I'm going to go with the folks who recommend binoculars. For that money you can get a nice set of binoculars (10x80) and a tripod. Don't forget a tripod. There are also some books to get you started - Backyard Astronomy is one, IIRC.
     
  8. ace peterson

    ace peterson Second Unit

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    Look at Orion telescopes.
    www.telescope.com
    They send out a free catalog like every 2 months and have a lot of tips on buying telescopes.
    Have fun!
     
  9. Dheiner

    Dheiner Gazoo

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    I will also second the recommendation of a pair of binoc's rather than a telescope, in your price range. I think the least expensive telescope I would ever buy would be a "Dobsonian" in the $2-300.00 range. That style and price would get you a good combination of portability, ease of use, and aperture, which are all very important.

    The 4.5" Orion on the above link is a good example.

    (All of this is obviously IMHO.)
     
  10. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Alan,

    It depends also on your father's main interest.

    If he's going to study planets and the moon, he needs magnification. In that case a refractory telescope (or binoculars on a tripod) are great.

    If he wants to go for the stars, magnification won't do. Essentially stars have zero diameter (seen from our distance, only exception: the sun!), so magnifying the image won't work (100 x 0 = 0). For stars he will need light-magnification, mainly by letting light from a larger area focus into his eyes. This translates to: large telescope diameter and as little glass (absorbtion) as possible. A reflecting telescope is the answer then.

    Cees
     
  11. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Alan, you live in Hollywood, does your father live there too? The light and smog is so bad that you really want to consider portability. Refractors generally need bigger (taller) tripod mounts to be useful, making them less portable. Try the Edmund scientific site www.edsci.com , you may find their richest-field reflectors good for your particular application.
     
  12. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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